Benjamin Johnson

Baseball in America

Throughout the years, baseball has been a cornerstone of American society. It was there for Civil wars, World Wars, Cold wars and Gulf wars. America has changed significantly over the past hundred and fifty years, but baseball has been a constant. During the best and worst times in our history, baseball has been there to distract us, comfort us, tell us that America is still there. It is a safe haven, where the troubles of one are lost amongst the cheer of the crowd, united behind one common team. Baseball has also been a vanguard in America. More than a decade before the civil rights movement, Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier. Soon other African-American players followed. By 1974 the all time home run record holder, the king of baseball, was a black man. Baseball itself is the essence of the American dream.

Baseball is forever linked with America, for it is a part of our past, our heritage. It is the game of our fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers. Every American boy since the 1920’s has grown up alongside baseball. When they were children, they played pickup games with their friends at the local sandlot. As young men, they played for their high school teams, and while overseas in the army or navy. As middle-aged fathers, they listened to games on the radio, and spent glistening days in the bleachers watching legends such as Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, and Willie Mays. At the same time they were playing catch with their children, who were fostering their own dreams of playing baseball one day, and who’s lifelong love of the sport had just begun. As old men, they sat quietly in the grandstand, keeping score while the team that has been there for them their entire lives plays on. These people will pass on, as will their children, and their children’s children, however the game of baseball will always be there. That is one of the reasons baseball is so loved: it is a sport of redemption and continuity. A team may win or lose, but regardless they will always be back next spring. There is eternal hope for every team and every fan. There is the knowledge that victory will come someday. Maybe not this year, maybe not next year, but it will come. It is for this reason that people keep coming back to baseball: no matter how many times you fail, there is always a second chance. In a world where we are judged by our failures, this is a welcome escape from harsh reality.

Baseball is a return to innocence for people of all ages, races, and religions. The history of baseball is one that is filled with players nearly as diverse as the globe itself. Jewish players like Sandy Koufax, African Americans like Hank Aaron, and Japanese like Ichiro draw equal cheers from fans of all walks of life. It is a sport that belongs to the world, and sees no place for racial bigotry. It is a good that is found in so few other places. People need not worry about racism, violence, or any political agendas. When someone arrives at the ballpark, it is as if they have cleansed themselves with purifying waters, and have returned to the goodness that grows in us all. It allows people to lose themselves in a wholesome game, and forget about society’s issues. It unites people with the love of something bigger than themselves.

Baseball is not only a part of American life, it is essential to it. It represents freedom and hope, goodness and virtue, triumph and failure, victory and defeat. Ball clubs across the country, from the major leagues to little leagues are outlets for pride and competitiveness. Baseball, in it’s purest form, takes place on the diamonds of the Cape Cod League, or on the local sandlot down the street. There is no charge for admission; yet people would gladly pay to watch it. The athletes here play not for endorsements, or million dollar contracts. They play for the love of the game, for baseball. This is a devotion and love that people long for. Sitting on the grass, while watching the ball gracefully fly through the air, or the sweet swing of the batter provides much needed peace for the residents of a chaotic world. People yearn for the past, and the past, present, and future are found in baseball. It is our heritage, our culture, and our dreams. Baseball cannot be described more perfectly than the way James Earl Jones’ character put it in Field of Dreams:

"The one constant through all the years... has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past... It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again."


Copyright 2002-2006 Student Publishing Program (SPP). Poetry and prose 2002-2006 by individual authors. Reprinted with permission. SPP developed and designed by Strong Bat Productions.